Ricoh GR21: A brief foray back to film.

Upon learning of my Brothers wedding back in mid 2015 I knew I wanted to shoot some film again. I already owned the wonderful Olympus XA and Olympus XA4 but was uncertain about the focal length I wanted. I contemplated the legendary Yashica T4 or the Hasselblad Xpan.

Maybe even a medium format Mamiya 7 ii …

Very sensibly Dada and Phil had hired a professional photographer to cover their wedding – – so for me it seemed like a fun idea to be at a different focal length than the conventional wedding photography.

I ended up with the Ricoh GR21. As the name implies, it has a 21mm lens and apparently was ‘best prestige camera’ of the year in 2001. Even at 15 years old my copy of the camera – bought from SRS Microsystems in the UK – was flawless. No wear on the buttons and everything still clicking into place nicely. It has autofocus but like the current Ricoh GR Digital it also has a very useful ‘Snap’ focus mode. With such a wide angle lens you get a lot of focus depth.

Before taking it to Italy for the wedding I tested it in the local area, lets see how it preformed in 2016.


Ricoh GR21. Abandoned barn.

Happy with the initial results the camera was packed in the bag for Italy. Along with the camera came 3 rolls of Fuji Acros 100. 3 rolls of Ilford XP2 super and 1 roll of Ilford Delta 3200. I wasn’t 100 percent certain of my return to film though, so also in the bag was a Fuji XT10 along with the 23mm f1.4 (just in case).

How did the camera do in Italy…


Ricoh GR21. Bike and balcony. Maruggio, Italy.


Ricoh GR21. Before the wedding. Chiesa Matrice, Maruggio.

Not bad, I definitely considered the pictures I was taking in a different way than using a digital camera and as a consequence got some different results. But how about the wedding ?


Dada and Phil wedding. Maruggio, Italy. 2016.

A success of course !


Ricoh GR21. Bag collect.

I also got some interesting environmental portraits which I’m very happy with and will get properly printed. Overall it was good to be limited to a film camera but ultimately I returned the camera to SRS Microsystems. The camera was flawless but the expense of getting film developed in the UK is quite prohibitive. If you develop you own film the Ricoh GR21 would be a fun choice in the 35mm format – but I’d probably suggest a medium format film camera instead.

I really hope Pentax / Ricoh make a full frame digital Ricoh GR in the future…

More pictures from this trip (taken with the Fuji XT10 and the 23mm f1.4) can be found here.

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